Phone: (707) 682-6262

Pike Minnow Snorkel Survey on the South Fork

In the last twenty years, the Sacramento pike minnow, or squawfish, has become a common sight in northern California's rivers.  Pike minnow are a species native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin drainage, and were introduced into the Eel River system by sports fishermen in 1979.  Biologists worry that the predacious, non-native pike minnow is having a detrimental effect on the already low juvenile salmon populations in the Eel River system. In the past, snorkel surveys have been conducted by California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to get a clearer picture of the pike minnow population as well as to make connections between increased pike minnow populations and decreased salmon populations.  For reasons unforeseen, DFG had to abruptly halt the surveys, and the pike-minnow populations went unrecorded for some years. 

Last July, ERWIG, with DFG head biologist Scott Downie's assistance, organized a pike-minnow survey along various reaches in the South fork Eel River.  Members of the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project, fisheries biologists from DFG and interested community members met bright and early to survey 40 pools on the South Fork.  A total of 6,483 pike minnow were counted ranging in size from 4 to over 18 inches. 
ERWIG is planning on conducting another survey this year, and we need the community's help to make it happen.  The exact date has yet to be determined, but the month of July, with its sunny skies and tolerable water temperatures, tends to be the optimal choice.  Volunteers will be rewarded for their hard work (swimming in the river) with a barbecue hosted by our group.  If interested, please call (707) 725-4317.